Prior to beginning her training as an integrative child and adolescent psychotherapist, Leilah was a child and family social worker. She uses an integrative approach to her work and believes strongly in creating a trusting, understanding and safe therapeutic relationship. The relationship with her clients is central to her work. She uses and attuned relationship to actively communicate empathy and acceptance of each child.
Her approach limits shame, promotes compassion and brings a sense of mutual support, strength and resilience. She provides children and young people with a safe space to explore and resolve past trauma and shame related experiences in a non-judgmental, nurturing and creative space. Leilah uses the arts and play to allow the child to fully express and explore themselves. Using play and the arts can often feel safer, and can allow indirect communication, putting the child in control and allowing the therapy to develop at a tolerable pace so they do not feel overwhelmed. As it is non-verbal it is particularly powerful with children who find it difficult to articulate thoughts, sensations, emotions or perceptions. It can be a way to tell without talking, when children are unable to or afraid to speak about specific events or feelings.
The use of the arts can stop repetitive cycles of worry, calming the body and the nervous system and slowing everything down so emotions can be processed safely, and this can often be a soothing and regulating experience. This is because it is a sensory experience, utilising visual, tactile, kinaesthetic methods. This process is not just simply arts and crafts or playing, in the context of a therapeutic relationship it can lead to powerful self-exploration and lead to discovering purposeful meaning. Neurobiology informs us that the sensory experience is effective in improving mood, sensory integration, calming the body and mind. It also provides opportunity to express through metaphor.
In this context, young people can talk, play, and create as a way to process big, uncomfortable and shameful feelings. Key to her approach is a deep respect for the child’s own experience and their inner world. Over time, building a trusting relationship can enable children to widen the relational options with self or others, and fulfil their potential. They develop a positive and integrated sense of self, growing in self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to them making sense of the world around them and begin to heal and feel more positive as they learn to regulate and contain their own emotions.
Previously, Leilah has worked with a range of ages and has experience working with different traumas and presentations including anxiety, depression, self-harm and behavioural issues.